Discovering Dewerstone Wood
Dewerstone Wood, Shaugh Prior, DevonRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Dewerstone Wood is located within the Dartmoor National Park and is close to the moorland village of Shaugh Prior. It’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest and important for its landscape and wildlife as well as for its archaeology and industrial heritage.
- Grade of walk: Walking Boot (steep/rocky)
- Type of walk: 'Hidden Places', 'Historical Footsteps'
- Bus stop
Start: Shaugh Prior National Trust car park, grid ref: SX533637
Start in the car park, outside what was once a kiln for the local china clay industry. Take the path starting at the notice board and head over the footbridge across the River Plym.
Near the car park lie the ruins of a china clay drying works, which operated from around 1870 until the 1960s. Liquidised clay was driven by gravity down a pipe from quarries on the moor, near Cadworthy Bridge. The clay was filtered of grits and fed into massive settling tanks where excess water would be drained off. Clouds of steam billowed from the coal-fired kilns which dried the wet clay. These were then formed into blocks and transported to the train station, initially by horse and cart and later by lorry, for use in various processes from cosmetics to medicines and paper.
Once over the bridge, you'll find the remains of the Ferro Ceramic Mine and Brickworks, directly in front of you. The most notable feature, which you can still see today, is the long tunnel brick kiln which was built in the late 19th century. To continue, follow the granite boulder path in an easterly direction.
High up on the hill above the tall cliffs at Dewerstone are two stony banks which form ramparts that cut off the spur end of the hilltop. These belong to a Neolithic tor enclosure dating back some 5000 years. About 3000 years ago, in the Bronze Age, another enclosure with a small hut circle was built inside the earlier defence. Was it someone once living here that gave a Dewerstone climber in the 1960s the find of a lifetime when they discovered a small Bronze Age pottery vessel hidden in the cliffs?
Continue on this path as it curves sharply round to the left and advances uphill another 100ft (30m). The path should then level out to form what was once a tramway for the Dewerstone granite quarries. Follow this track round the hill, passing a couple of the disused quarries on your right and looking out for the granite tramway sleepers under your feet.
The Dewerstone stands in a commanding position above the River Plym. It takes its name from the Dartmoor legend of demonic hunter Dewer; the Devil himself. When night fell, Dewer would hunt down people who were lost on the moor. Accompanied by a pack of fearsome, ghostly dogs called Whist Hounds, Dewer would drive people to their deaths via a fatal fall from Drewerstones highest cliff: the 150ft (45ft) Devils Rock. These days Devils Rock is a climbing hotspot in the South West.
Just before you reach Dewerstone cottage, the former counting house, stables and smithy for the quarries, take a sharp left down the hill. Keep going along this footpath, following the River Meavy downstream, this should take you back to the car park.
We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk
End: Shaugh Prior National Trust car park, grid ref: SX533637
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- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
- Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
- OS Map: Landranger OL28
Circular route with some steep inclines. It can get very muddy, especially after wet weather, so definitely bring walking boots. Dogs are welcome but please keep them on leads near livestock.
- How to get here:
By bus: Plymouth City 59, between Plymouth, Plympton, Sparkwell, Bickleigh and Plympton's George Park & Ride, alight National Trust car park at Shaugh Bridge
By train: Plymouth Station, 6 miles (9.6km)
By car: From A38, exit at Manadon Junction and take A386 towards Tavistock. At Bickleigh Cross (immediately after Belliver Roundabout), turn right onto New Road, then 3rd left onto Hele Lane. At end of lane, turn left towards Shaugh Prior. Car park is on left immediately after bridge over River Plym
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